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FDA, baby formula maker detail outlook on shortage

Posted at 10:52 PM, May 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-11 22:52:21-04

(WXYZ) — The baby formula shortage is approaching three months after two infant deaths and two illnesses led to a voluntary recall and a facility shutdown.

On Wednesday, manufacturer Abbott Nutrition released the findings of its investigation into its formula, bacterial concerns and its facility in Sturgis. The company claims there’s no evidence to link their formulas to the babies deaths.

This comes a day after the Food and Drug Administration announced the steps it's taking to increase production and access to infant formula.

According to Datasembly, 43% of America's baby formula supply is currently out of stock.

Aaron Steinig and his mother Judi left Meijer Wednesday afternoon after hunting for baby formula. He said his wife just gave birth the day before.

"Now you got to start preparing — diapers, formula, more diapers, more wipers, more formula," the father of two told 7 Action News.

They say the trip was productive, considering the concerns they've heard over the baby formula shortage.

"Way back when, when (Aaron) was a baby, it was never a question. You went to the store and you bought what you needed. So this is something that... we're in the United States. This should never be an issue here," Judi Steinig said.

To address the issue, the FDA wrote a news release with an explanation of the steps it's taking to boost supply and access to it.

"I think the government is starting to take the right steps. Congress is going to investigate this. The FDA seems to be taken action," Elyssa Schmier told 7 Action News.

Schmier, who's the mother of an infant herself, said she can relate to Steinig and what his family is hoping to avoid.

"My heart goes out to that father because that's scary," she said.

As vice president of governmental affairs for the organization MomsRising, Schmier finds there are three groups most impacted by the shortage. That includes those who live in rural areas where close access to multiple stores is limited, those who are on WIC who are already limited with how much they can purchase and those with medical needs.

“The people who are really in a crisis right now are parents who have children who have health issues. People who are medically fragile, have digestive issues, people who kind of found the specialized formula that works for their baby and perhaps, it’s the only formula that is their option," Schmier explained.

Wednesdy, Abbott Nutrition wrote the following on its website:

"We understand the situation is urgent – getting Sturgis up and running will help alleviate this shortage. Subject to FDA approval, we could restart the site within two weeks. We would begin production of Elecare, Alimentum and metabolic formulas first and then begin production of Similac and other formulas."

The company went on to say, "From the time it restarts the site, it will take six to eight weeks before product is available on (store) shelves."